Inside SCI-Arc

    The SCI-Arc Gallery is open daily, 10am-6pm.


09.22.08 - 10.03.08 | SCI-Arc Gallery
Selected Thesis: A juried exhibition of distinguished graduate thesis projects

Closing reception: Friday, 10.03.08 from 6-8pm

Best Graduate Thesis
Steven Ma

Graduate Thesis - Honorable Mention
Carlos Michel-Medina
Cindy Menassa
Rick Michod
Christopher Norman
Darien Williams

Steven Ma
Exuberant- ­Liminal Form & Calligraphical Aesthetics
Advisor: Hernan Diaz Alonso

This thesis is about style. Stylistic individuation is the contemporary meaning of style. Style emerges in practice at the highest articulation of a coherent combination of forms and aesthetics. This thesis investigates how form and aesthetics can create affects. It is also the intention of this thesis to evolve new speciation, new style and new aesthetics through the production of liminality.

Liminality is an in-between state characterized by ambiguity, openness and indeterminacy. Liminal is associated with the ephemeral and transitional passage between alternative states. It is a transitional threshold involves the interrelationship between two phenomena rather than their opposition.

This thesis introduces Liminal Form- constantly evolving the relationship between systems to create forms that are held in maximal tension in relation to one another, suspended in a permanent state of incomplete transition. This incomplete transition allows one to recognize originality. One's sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing some disorientation. It is an "in-between state" of open-ended mutating that allows for infinite growth.

Calligraphical Aesthetics is a stylistic formal language that will be integrated to balance the legibility in the progression of combining and mixing these complex formal systems. The formal qualities of calligraphy allow complex spatial arrangement to be handled with ffortless fluidity.

The conception of Liminal Form with the integration of Calligraphical Aesthetics can create affect.


Carlos Michel-Medina
Meronymic Adaptations
Advisor: Tom Wiscombe

Meronymy conveys the fundamental relation between the part and its whole. When multiple discrete systems come together, a level of adaptability and compromise between components is exercised. The negotiation of redundancies, differences, and similarities is part of this reductive and adaptive process. This thesis seeks to investigate this process in envelope-structure systems at the component level, and how the interrelations generated effect the development of the whole.

The part-to-whole concept, suggests a non-hierarchical approach to design that evolves from un-preconceived ideals that open up the design development and focuses on component relations and the systems they belong to. Part-to-whole relations can be expressed through the elaboration of seams, and the formal articulation of structure. These relations break down into a series of prototype features such as; necessity, integrality, discreteness, and functional motivation. These features alter depending on the system a certain component is deployed in, such as roof vs. façade.

The objective is to decipher the manner in which these systems resolve themselves at the micro scale, where a higher level of specificity is achieved as the component responds to its own set of criteria and its own logics, while maintaining a constant level of harmony with its whole.


Cindy Menassa
Deterritorialization & Reterritorialization: Preservation in Beirut
Advisor: Ramiro Diaz-Granados

History is a very sensitive subject.

History pertains to the living man in three aspects: it pertains to him as a being who acts and strives, as a being who preserves and reveres, a being who suffers and seeks deliverance.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations

Preservation is usually considered as an endeavor to carefully protect history, the object of preservation being viewed as a treasure that cannot be touched. If a building is damaged, many architects try to conserve the authenticity of the historical by rebuilding what used to be there.

Beirut consists of layers of different civilizations before the civil war (1975­1990). Ruins and destruction covered the city for a while, until a joint stock company recently decided to rebuild the city back to its state 20 years before the war. The city becomes a big urban planning project, where every building resembles the one next to it. What was once authentic is now a mere copy of the original.

How do we deal with Preservation and Renovation in architecture other than restoring a seemingly historical condition, that by itself can only be the representation or snapshot of a specific moment and thus is never able to comprehensively reflect the historic stratification of a place, a building or an object? Renaissance architects believed that the human body is the measure of all things. Modernists carried on this idea with different measures. This thesis aims at dealing with damaged historical buildings as bodies that are not about measures and proportions anymore but about sensations. The historical damaged building then becomes an act of responding to a stimulus; fields of forces press toward the body which in return presses outward, trying to pass and dissolve through these fields.


Rick Michod
A Speculation on Museum Expansion
Advisor: Marcelo Spina

Apertures do not start and end on a façade. They are not an exterior condition. Rather, they begin on the exterior, accumulate and travel throughout the interior. Apertures are deep space.

The new speculation for the Art Institute of Chicago¹s expansion proposes a network whose main nodes are a new take on the courtyard. Courtyard organization is nothing new to museums. Boullee (1783) and Durand (1803) developed the first museum types: where gallery space was positioned along the paths of connection of courtyards. Shinkel (1815) later expanded Durand¹s notion of courtyards flanking a main entrance arcade. For Shinkel, the positioning of the courtyards was meant to establish a psychological effect on the museum user. In this sense, Shinkel is trying to force users of the museum to become experiential visitors of the spaces. A new AIC expansion seeks to not maximize floor area, but rather to maximize spatial potential.


Christopher Norman
Domesticating Displacement
Advisor: Jean Michel Crettaz

The picture plane of Alberti and the baroque visual experience are combined to unresolve visual context. As Martin Jay notes, ³the baroque has a strong tactile or haptic quality which prevents it from turning in to the absolute ocular centrism of its Cartesian perspectival rival.² By reconfiguring monocular perspectival representations, the ambitions of the cubists and of Borges, the garden of forking paths a reality of multiplicities harnessed for a process used to consider a relevant domestic architecture in Los Angeles.


Darien Williams
Odd Couple
Advisor: Jeffrey Inaba

The disciplinary divide between architectural design and urban planning policy in the 1950s and 1960s has resulted in an ever tenuous relationship between architecture and city-scale implementation. Today, complexity is an excuse for pervasive complacency. How can architecture get involved in the staging of its preconditions, not only as an end in itself, but as a catalyst for advancing the discipline of design?

The project is concerned with the problem of urbanization in the post-urban territory of Los Angeles, where center and periphery are not so much geometrically ordered spaces as they are a set of networked, coarse grain conditions. Here, growth does not occur as a general thickening of the landscape; it is planned, sporadic otherness. Rather than seek to normalize this tendency, how can deliberate spatial autonomy be re-valued as a viable model of urbanization, and what unforeseen demands does such a model make on architecture?


The SCI-Arc Gallery is open daily from 10-6pm.